With the influx of innovation contests and popularity of crowdsourcing for the cheapest labor, it can be easy for creative minds to feel taken advantage of. On the other hand, innovators and start-ups struggle to get attention for their ideas and generate funding. Fortunately, there are success stories out there, such as the GE Ecomagination challenge.
This summer, GE and four partners announced plans to invest a total of $63 million USD in 10 cleantech companies developing energy-related concepts in solar, communications and software, and building efficiency. The funding goes to winners of the second phase of the Ecomagination challenge, which was focused on “Powering Your Home.”
GE says the challenge has resulted in a total of 22 new commercial partnerships including the acquisition of a smart grid technology company in Shannon, Ireland that was among 12 companies that received funding in the first-round awards. The acquisition of FMC-Tech was announced earlier this year, after the company had originally received a $100,000 reward for being at the top of a field of roughly 3,500 ideas in the challenge.
FMC-Tech has developed a system for providing real-time data about conditions on the distribution” power grid: a system which gives GE a new level of grid intelligence to utilities, improving decision-making and streamlining operations with real-time information on power outages and available capacity on power lines, according to a press release.
The acquisition also appears to be a strategic move by GE to take advantage of Northern Ireland’s competitive advantages in terms of achieving a leading position in this emerging technology. An abundance of natural resources and a skilled workforce make it an ideal place for GE to develop a smart grid pilot project. The company had already supported Smart Grid Ireland (SGI), a group of businesses focused on articulating the benefits of smart grid to promote sustainability and economic growth throughout the region.